For many people, one of the joys of passing the motorcycle test is the fact that they can now whisk their friends off on a pillion ride.

Unfortunately, how to deal with carrying a passenger on your motorcycle is not really dealt with during motorcycling lessons and the practical tests at any more than a basic level. So, we have put together a few things to consider when it comes to carrying pillion passengers.


Mounting the bike

Make sure to mount the bike before your passenger does. When your passenger mounts the motorcycle, keep it upright it by holding the handlebars firmly and bracing it with your legs if possible. Pillion passengers are often not motorcyclists themselves so it’s is a good idea to help and reassure them when getting on board for the first time.


Your passenger’s safety

Make sure that your passenger is wearing a helmet that is correctly fitted and secured, and that they are wearing clothing that will protect them against debris or scrapes, such as a sturdy pair of trousers and a jacket. As a general rule of thumb, you want your passenger to be just as or even better protected than you are; you are responsible for your passenger’s life when carrying pillion.

If your passenger has long hair or a long scarf, have them tuck it away, both for their own safety and to stop it obstructing your view.


Hold on tight

Have your passenger familiarize themselves with the key pillion holding positions before you set off. They can put their arms around your waist for the most secure position or if they prefer, the passenger also has the option of holding on to the grab rail. They may even choose a combination of the two, one hand on the grab rail, one around your waist. Never let your passenger hold your arms or shoulders as this can restrict your movement.

If your passenger has no motorcycling experience, simply ask them to mimic you exactly, however, if they know what they are doing, they should lean along with you in the corners for the most control.


Maintaining contact

If you are going to be carrying pillion passengers regularly, you should consider investing in an intercom system to enable you to communicate with your passenger more clearly than shouting while on the move, which can be very important if you need to ask them to re-centre their body weight, to grasp your waist or the grab rail more firmly, or to tuck their scarf inside their jacket.

Carrying pillion passengers need not be a scary prospect, and can be a fun and liberating experience for both of you, provided you follow these simple guidelines and use some common sense.